By Dylan Larck
The Akron Zips had a rough showing in 2020 where they finished the season with a 1-5 record, with their only win being against Bowling Green where the Zips won 31-3. The Zips are one of the worst teams in college football going into this season and will not test Auburn, especially since it is the first game in Jordan-Hare with 100-percent capacity in two years.
Looking at the offense the only bright spot is running back Teon Dollard who rushed for 666 yards, 6 touchdowns and averaged 5.9 yards per carry last year. This offseason, Dollard was suspended from the team for a felony charge, and it is unsure of when he will be back.
The passing attack was ineffective as junior Zach Gibson ranked 114th in the nation in passing yards, and no receiver had over 300 yards on the year. Gibson was sacked 25 times in six games, and threw five interceptions to four touchdowns last year.
A young Akron offense with four freshmen on the offensive line will be faced with a challenge against Auburn’s experienced defensive unite in the first game of the season.
The defense ranked 110th in the nation last season. They are led by preseason All-MAC second-team linebacker Bubba Arslanian, who lead the team in tackles last year. Third-team cornerback A.J. Watts, who lead the team in interceptions, is also returning.
Arslanian will be the main player to watch out for on this defense as he led all defensive players in the nation in solo tackles per game with 7.8.
The defense last year gave up 250 rushing yards per game and allowed 6.26 yards per carry. Auburn should be able to use that to its favor, especially considering Tank Bigsby averaged more than six yards per carry for Auburn last season.
MAKE OR BREAK FACTORS:
The thing Akron will depend on the most is if Dollard will no longer be suspended once the season starts. Without Dollard, this offense won’t be able to move the ball, both on the ground and through the air. If Dollard doesn’t play, this could be a shut out.